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May 2010

January 24, 2022

Starbucks to serve beer and wine at some U.S. stores

Let’s brainstorm together: if there is one place on earth where people linger too long, where is it?


Indeed, there are few social meeting spots as cliché as the coffee chain, yet still it persists, Starbucks being the  place you want to be if your desire is to be seen in public typing on your laptop, studying for an exam or wearing a cashmere scarf with glasses absent prescription frames.

Business-wise, having people spend incredible stretches of time in your outlets is a big money maker for Starbucks, though in the U.S. the franchise has found a way to lure customers in for even longer.

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May 31, 2021

No one wants recent university grads

Hey, graduates. How does this title strike you: “No one needs you, Class of 2010”?

Not very encouraging, right? Not really what you want to hear after the culmination of four years learning at the highest level.

Yet, such is the headline of a recent Joe Queenan editorial in the Wall Street Journal, a scathing, pull-no-punches piece that concludes, ‘Man, there really are no jobs for twentysomethings out there – at all.’

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Mistakes people make when hiring advisors

Here we go again: Another high-profile advisor who turns out to be a crook.

Kenneth Ira Starr, a New York investment adviser with a roster of celebrity clients, was charged by the U.S. government of orchestrating a $30 million fraud.

According to the federal complaint, Starr allegedly used his clients' money to buy luxury items for himself, including a new $7.5 million apartment in Manhattan.

In addition to Hollywood VIPs like Martin Scorsese, Wesley Snipes, and Uma Thurman, Mr. Starr's other clients included lawyers and hedge fund managers.

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May 28, 2021

How lottery tickets ravage low-income families

It’s the dream of dreams. The ultimate fantasy.

Surely you – like I – have spent god-knows-how-many hours daydreaming about winning the lottery. And why not? By most measures, it’s the ticket to financial paradise.

But chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve got a pretty firm grasp on how unlikely hitting the jackpot actually is. And by that extension, you probably don’t spend your grocery money or emergency fund on lottery tickets.

Sadly, this is not always the case.

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May 27, 2021

What’s a mother's work really worth?

Every year around Mother’s Day, Salary.com posts a calculation of what price a mom’s services would command on the open market, correctly pointing out that mothers don't get enough respect for the work they do.

The time Canadian mothers spend on the 10 most popular “mom jobs” would translate into a salary of $132,288 for a stay-at-home Mom. Working Moms could expect to generate $82,220 on top of their regular pay. 

How do the folks at Salary.com arrive at such hefty numbers? To create their estimate, the researchers created a hybrid of 10 different jobs – each with different salaries – and then considered the market value for mom's most common jobs and tasks.

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May 26, 2021

How much should BP's penalty be?

As BP’s oil spill clean-up efforts reached Operation “Top Kill” today, one thing is becoming clear: people want justice.

And there has been a lot of speculation over how much accountability the energy giant should have for its spill last month, the explosion that’s already spewed an estimated 1.4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Some say BP is totally negligible, others (well, BP itself) say it’s not. But everyone wants to know, once and for all, how much the British multinational should have to pay for its mess.

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Time to make MP expenses public: Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Almost daily it seems someone is squawking about how elected officials squander taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Witness the scandal in the UK where MP Eric Illsley is the latest politician to be charged in an expense-padding scheme. Illsley is alleged to have falsely claimed more than £20,000 in expenses on his second home in London.

Here at home, social media crusades have sprung up demanding the Board of Internal Economy (nine MPs from the four major parties) which oversees parliamentary spending, allow the public to review House of Commons expense accounts. 

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May 25, 2021

Canadian homes overvalued by 14 per cent: report

The requisite answer when discussing Toronto real estate prices is this: Yeah, I’d buy Toronto property … if I could afford Toronto property.

But while it’s well known – and, to a degree, expected – that the cost of Big Smoke housing is absurd, a new study shows the rest of Canada shouldn’t be one to talk.

According to a report issued by the CIBC, home prices in Canada are currently overvalued by a staggering 14 per cent.

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Can creative types get ahead in a left-brain world?

The phrase "starving artist" may be a bit overused, but it’s no secret that few creative people make a real living with the work they love.

Can creative types, dominated by the right side of the brain, get ahead in an orderly, left-brain world?

California-based author Lee Silber believes they can. And in Money Management for the Creative Person: Right Brain Strategies to Build Your Bank Account and Find the Financial Freedom to Create he tells them how.

Through his writing and speaking engagements, Silber's job is to help creative souls – who often aren't sure how to effectively use their talents – manage their careers and money.

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May 24, 2021

Canadians enjoying retirement, but pre-retirees not so confident

Retired Canadians with assets of at least $100,000 are enjoying retirement, with more than half (56%) saying their quality of life has improved, according to a recent ‘Retirement Myths and Realities Poll’, courtesy of RBC.

The vast majority report they’re having a successful retirement (95%), with the biggest key to retirement success being realistic expectations (30%).

On the other hand, only 38% of older Canadians who hope to retire soon expect life to improve after they quit work, with half (50%) expecting no significant change, RBC reports.

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May 21, 2021

Shrek 4, the first-ever $20 movie ticket

As the 3D movement shows no signs of slowing, there should be equal parts joy and concern for movie goers these days.

The good: 3D movies – that is, the 3D experience – are pretty cool. While Avatar  probably won’t hold up as a standalone picture very long, anyone who saw it in theatres was unanimous. That was a ride, and I absolutely got my money’s worth.

Of course, that brings us to the bad. The money (3D tickets are markedly more expensive than the already-expensive regular movie admission) needed to spend a night at the theatre in 2010 is astronomical.

How high is it? Try $20 to see Shrek Forever After  in New York City, the first movie theatre ticket to break the twenty buck barrier.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...